Is there room in a weak economy and a flat sport for another equipment company, particularly one called Hello Kitty Golf, featuring the familiar white Japanese bobtail cat logo? Why not, inasmuch as its focus will be on two generally underserved constituencies, girls' and women's golf.
Hello Kitty Golf is a new venture run by Michael Lee, who founded Nickent Golf (now owned by Dick's Sporting Goods).
"This brand was conceived in June of last year," he said. "We were approached by Sanrio [Hello Kitty's parent company] USA to help them do a line of golf equipment and accessories. What we produced is a few hundred SKUs [stock keeping units, or individual products within a line], from junior sets to accessories, headcovers, divot tools, ball markers, balls and full ladies' sets. We retained most of the design staff from Nickent into this new company and it designed the entire Hello Kitty set."
Three girls' sets will be available -- a set for three to five-year olds that includes a 4-hybrid, a 7-iron, a putter, stand bag and headcover ($139.99); a set for six to eight-year olds that includes a driver, 4-hybrid, 7-iron, sand wedge, putter, standbag and headcovers ($179.99); and a set for nine to 12-year old olds, featuring a driver, 4-hybrid, 7- and 9-irons, sand wedge, putter, stand bag and headcovers ($199.99).
"I have an 11-year old daughter," Lee said. "She started golf the year before. The pro shop gave her a 7-iron. Then I tried to buy her a set at the country club. The pro said all the clubs are unisex. I saw my little girl and she said, 'What?' She couldn't believe it. Girls and boys are very distinctive at that age. When the Hello Kitty opportunity came up, I became a super hero dad."
The Hello Kitty women's set includes a driver, 4-and 7-woods, a 5-hybrid, 7-iron through pitching wedge, sand wedge, putter and mix-and-match cart bag and headcovers available in a variety of colors ($799.99).
-- John Strege